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Worldly Grasp 

Sam Baker's hard truths

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In 1986, Sam Baker was on a train in Cuzco, Peru when a bomb exploded. The people he was sitting with were killed; Baker suffered a cut artery, blown-in eardrums and brain damage, and "should have died," he says, but he didn't.

Baker, a smart, oftentimes sad songwriter, has resisted the impulse to weave his tragedy into a larger statement about the world. Then Boston happened. Then the images of the explosions, of the half-appendages, of the bloody rescue efforts. Then Sam Baker, the train passenger who lived while a small German boy sitting next to him did not, could stay silent no longer about the senselessness of it all. "It's not OK to blow kids up, for any reason in the world," he says in a recent video. "I've not been overly vocal about this, but I am now. I'm sick of it. This stuff has got to stop."

Baker's new album, Say Grace, continues the artistic vision shown in his previous "Mercy Trilogy," with economic prose and vivid imagery. But it's Baker's strong empathy that surfaces in everything he does. See him in person on Friday, Oct. 25, at the Occidental Center for the Arts. 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Occidental. 7:30pm. $25–$27. www.northbaylive.com.

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